The Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are strengthening their partnerships with sub-Saharan African countries to increase green electrification and water security.
The four countries are known for their expertise in developing viable and innovative energy systems, with a focus on effective system integration, grid stability and sustainable energy solutions. Delegates and ministerial delegations from the Nordic countries gathered together with their African counterparts during the Nordic Utility Days conference, held concurrently with the African Utility Week and PowerGEN Africa conference, in Cape Town, this week.
The delegation included Sweden’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Niklas Johansson and Finland’s Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Kai Kaatra.
South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe welcomed the interest shown by Nordic countries. Speaking during a business breakfast at Nordic Utility Days, he said: “Nordic countries can assist African markets combat challenges in energy poverty, modernize information and communications technology solutions, create employment and generate investment. Moving towards clean and green renewables is crucial in achieving this goal.”
He emphasised that developing carbon capture and storage capacity would be an important contribution to greening the South African energy space and recognised the long-standing cooperation with Norway in this area.
During the conference, Danish Ambassador to South Africa Tobias Elling Rehfeld also announced Phase 2 of the Strategic Water Sector Cooperation partnership between Denmark and South Africa.
This was a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding regarding water use and water resources signed in November 2015 by the Danish Minister of Environment and Food and the South African Minister of Water and Sanitation.
“The solutions to reaching the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are there and we are anxious to work together to reach affordable water for all countries. SDGs apply globally; the Nordic countries want to be partners. We have political and regulatory technical solutions to act globally and create solutions locally for Africa,” said Rehfeld.
On energy, Johansson expressed Sweden’s commitment to developing relations as a contribution to reducing carbon emissions and helping Africa in its energy sector transition.
“It is possible to combine good economic growth and a reduction in emissions. These discussions are core and crucial to both opportunities and challenges that we face in addressing economic growth, climate change and employment.”
On the issue of water security, Kaatra pointed out that “with planning, management and governance including cost recovery for water services, it is possible to alleviate water scarcity”.
The aim of Nordic Utility Days has been to demonstrate that Nordic countries have the policy regulation and technical solutions to provide cost-effective and climate-friendly water and energy solutions for South Africa.
Nordic investors are at the forefront of phasing out fossil fuels in their portfolios. Energy storage has also become a hot topic and was discussed during the week, as well as the Nordic experience in promoting smart cities and the deployment of smart grids. Water metering and monitoring, water reuse and alternative water supply was also on the agenda.
A range of exhibitors from Nordic countries displayed their products and solutions – from biogas, thermal hydrolysis and wind energy to water metering solutions and power quality measurement solutions – during the African Utility Week and PowerGEN Africa event.